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Tapas Old as Time: These Are the World’s Oldest Restaurants

The oldest restaurants around the world are capable of telling stories that history books only strive to.

Imagine dining above a Parisian wine cellar that predates the French Revolution or grabbing a pint inside an Austrian restaurant where Christopher Columbus imbibed before departing for the New World. From the world’s oldest brewery to the oldest restaurant in America, and even the world’s longest-running brunch spot, get a taste for history at these historic restaurants around the world.

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PHOTO: Antica pizzeria Port'Alba Vomero
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World’s Oldest Pizzeria: Antica Pizzeria Port’alba

WHERE: Naples, Italy

Many restaurants try to claim the title of “first pizzeria,” but Antica Pizzeria Port’alba’s claim as the birthplace of modern pizza is the only one that checks out. This Naples icon started as a snack stall for peddlers in 1738, selling a flatbread dish topped with garlic, cheese, tomatoes, and basil that most resembles pizza as we know it today. The stall added chairs and became a proper pizzeria in 1830 as the owners began throwing their pies in the pizzeria’s new ovens (which are still there today), lined with lava rocks from Mount Vesuvius.

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PHOTO: :yoko:/Flickr
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Hawaii’s Oldest Restaurant: Manago Hotel Restaurant

WHERE: Big Island, Hawaii

The pork chops served at the Manago Hotel Restaurant are arguably more famous than the fact that this unassuming restaurant in Captain Cook has been serving guests for more than a century. Kinzo Manago moved to Hawaii with his wife and opened the restaurant with a $100 loan in 1917. The couple rented out cots in the back of the restaurant to accommodate traveling salesmen on the island for $1 per night, offering up hot meals for $0.50 a plate. Today, the hotel is run by the owner’s grandson and his wife, who manage the now 64-room hotel and updated restaurant. The pork chops are $11 more expensive these days, but rumor has it that they are still cooked on the same cast iron pan that was first seasoned in 1917.

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PHOTO: Éric Messel(CC BY-SA 4.0)/WikimediaCommons
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World’s Oldest 3-Star Michelin Restaurant: L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges

WHERE: Lyon, France

It wasn’t until 2020, just two years after legendary chef Paul Bocuse passed away, that L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges was stripped of its long-held third star. The restaurant received its first Michelin star two years after Bocuse took over his family’s restaurant to prepare “la cuisine Lyonnaise” in 1956. It earned Michelin’s highest award, a three-star rating, in 1965 and held onto all three stars for 55 years, making it the world’s oldest 3-star Michelin-rated restaurant. Auberge du Pont de Collonges currently holds two stars, where tables are still full of patrons ordering Bocuse’s signature dish: black truffle soup.

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PHOTO: La Mallorquina
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Oldest Restaurant in Western Hemisphere: La Mallorquina

WHERE: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Although La Mallorquina is a good two hundred years younger than the island’s oldest hotel, El Convento Hotel, the Spanish and Puerto Rican foods prepared at La Mallorquina have been feeding locals and tourists since it first opened in 1848. The restaurant specializes in cuisine from Palma de Mallorca—the name translates to “the woman of Mallorca”—where menu items include gazpacho, arroz con pollo, paella, flan, and a variety of soups.

 

 

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PHOTO: Daifawei (CC BY-SA 4.0)/WikimediaCommons
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World’s Oldest Peking Duck Restaurant: Bianyifang

WHERE: Beijing, China

This beloved Beijing icon is now a chain throughout the city, but the original Bianyifang has been serving its Peking duck the same way today as it has since the early Ming dynasty. Bianyifang started informally, preparing roast duck in a closed oven that gives the dish a juicier meat and softer skin, and expanded to a full-fledged restaurant in 1885.

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World’s Oldest Brewery: Weihenstephaner Monastery Brewery

WHERE: Weihenstephan, Germany

Beer brewing first began at the Weihenstephaner Monastery in 1040, in the same year that Abbott Arnold received a license for brewing beer, but rumors of clandestine brewing on the grounds have trickled through the hop fields of the Weihenstephan hills since the early 700s. The brewery is best known for their Hefe Weissbier (wheat beer), but their adherence to Germany’s purity laws have produced a number of other local favorites, including a kristall weissbier, a pilsner, and a 1516 kellerbier.

 

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PHOTO: sv1ambo(CC BY 2.0)/Flickr
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Oldest Restaurant in Australia: Lord Nelson Brewery

WHERE: Sydney, Australia

Ex-convict William Wells received his pardon and his liquor license well before he began converting his Sydney sandstone home on Kent Street into a hotel and brewery. He welcomed his first guests in 1841, and the hotel and brewery are still run under the very same license he used today. The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel is located in Sydney’s Historic Rocks district, where visitors (including the 44th Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle) can partake in the brewery’s English-style ales.

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PHOTO: Wally Gobetz(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/Flickr
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World’s Oldest Soba House: Honke Owariya

WHERE: Kyoto, Japan

Honke Owariya has been kneading, rolling, and cutting dough since it first opened as a confectionary shop in 1465. It wasn’t until the shop’s owners transferred their skills to making soba-kiri during the mid-Edo period that this wooden building began to attract its first long line of customers. The current owners claim the secret to their ancient recipe’s success is Kyoto’s mineral rich water, but nowhere else in the world can guests take a seat on tatami mat floors around low tables and savor centuries of soba-making in just one bite.

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PHOTO: kavalenkava/Shutterstock
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World’s Oldest Wine Cellar: La Tour d’Argent

WHERE: Paris, France

The locally-farmed pressed duck (canard à la presse) has been popular with diners since it was first introduced at La Tour d’Argent in 1890, when each duck was assigned a serial number which was presented to diners on a postcard upon ordering (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt enjoyed #112,151 and Charlie Chaplin relished #253,652). The restaurant’s real gem is its wine cellar, which opened alongside the restaurant in 1582. The cellar managed to go untouched during the WWII German occupation, but it was a French billionaire who managed to take off with a rare flask of Napoleon brandy…which he replaced with a letter of excuse and a blank check. The cellar is well-guarded, where it currently holds more than 320,000 bottles, including an 1858 Château Citran.

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PHOTO: El M’Rabet Café
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Oldest Restaurant in Africa: El M’Rabet Café

WHERE: Tunis, Tunisia

Resting in the shadows of the impressive Zaytuna Mosque, this ancient café dates back to 1628 and is rumored as the former meeting place for Turkish militia during the 17th-century Ottoman occupation of Tunisia. Today El M’Rabet Café is a great spot for sampling authentic Tunisian cuisine in the café’s sunny courtyard or a coffee inside on the historic platforms after an afternoon spent shopping for custom clothing at the Souk el Trouk (the tailor’s market) inside the medina.

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PHOTO: El M’Rabet Café
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Oldest Restaurant in the British West Indies: Tom Moore’s Tavern

WHERE: Bermuda

This tropical tavern was named after the first person to write romantically about Bermuda, Irish poet Thomas Moore, who visited the island in 1804 and wrote often beneath the tavern’s nearby Calabash tree. Tom Moore’s Tavern got its start in 1652 as a private residence of ship captain Robert Walsingham, a man famous for his hospitality, before transforming into a full-fledged restaurant many years later. There are five separate dining rooms within the tavern, where diners can look out on a Calabash tree while dining on French-Continental specialties like house-made pastas, seasonal spiny lobster,and Bermuda Fish Chowder made with black rum.

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PHOTO: The Old ’76 House
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America’s Oldest Tavern: The Old ’76 House

WHERE: Tappan, New York, USA

The Old ’76 House has earned its fair share of nicknames since it first opened in 1668. It wascknown as “the listening post of the Revolution” due to its proximity to General Washington’s headquarters, and then as “Andre’s Prison” after it served as a prison for a convicted spy, Major John Andre, during the Revolutionary War. The restaurant today has been carefully restored so it can once again be an American meeting place for patrons to dine on classic American flavors like roasted Amish chicken, blueclaw crabcakes, and hearty pot roast.

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PHOTO: Union Oyster House
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America’s Oldest Continually Operated Restaurant and Oyster Bar: Union Oyster House

WHERE: Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Located along the Freedom Trail in Boston in building constructed between 1716 and 1717, the Union Oyster House has been shucking oysters for its guests in the same location since it opened in 1826. Aside from a few temporary closures due to fires and mandated city-wide shutdowns, the restaurant has upheld its title as the oldest continually operated restaurant and oyster bar in America by keeping its doors open for patrons that have included Daniel Webster, John F. Kennedy, and Luciano Pavarotti, who gave an unexpected performance of “Happy Birthday” to one lucky birthday group dining near his booth.

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PHOTO: Reg Natarajan(CC BY 2.0)/Flickr
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Oldest Restaurant in South America: La Puerta Falsa

WHERE: Bogota, Colombia

La Puerta Falsa (which translates to “the false door”) didn’t actually have a name when it first opened in 1816, where locals began explaining its location based off its proximity to the famous false door of the Catedral Primada. The phrase, “I’m going to the restaurant near the false door,” eventually became “I’m going to La Puerta Falsa.” The restaurant, a petite hole in the wall, looks much the same today as it did when it opened, with seating for only about 20 diners; but the ones that get a stool are treated to some of the best tamales in the city and the restaurant’s famous chucula y almojabanas (hot chocolate with a side of soft cheese and hot buttered bread).

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PHOTO: Adam Jones(CC BY-SA 2.0)/Flickr
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Oldest Café in India: Leopold’s Café

WHERE: Mumbai, India

The bullet holes still remain embedded in the walls of Leopold’s Café in south Mumbai after the 2008 terror attack in the city, but no one seems to notice as they wash down hearty plates of chicken tikka and chili chicken with ice-cold bottles of Kingfisher beer. The restaurant has been a beloved icon in the Colaba area of Mumbai since it opened in 1871, selling oil before adding a drug store and café component in later years. Today, Leo’s (as locals refer to it) is strictly for dining, aside from a few pieces of merch available behind the restaurant’s iconic bar.

 

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PHOTO: Roy Guste
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America’s Oldest Family-Run Restaurant: Antoine’s Restaurant

WHERE: New Orleans, Louisiana

Few dining halls can tell as many stories at Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Opened in 1840 by 18-year-old French immigrant Antoine Alciatore, the restaurant has remained family-run and has left its doors open continuously throughout its existence (even through the Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression, Prohibition, and Hurricane Katrina). Coffee cups of alcohol were allegedly served in one of the restaurant’s many themed rooms during Prohibition, but Antoine’s biggest legacy is being the birthplace of oysters Rockefeller, eggs Sardou, and pommes de terre souffles.

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PHOTO: Yar Restaurant
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Russia’s Oldest Restaurant: Yar Restaurant

WHERE: Moscow, Russia (1826)

Dining at Russia’s oldest restaurant is an event, complete with live performances and dances to entertain guests as they indulge in upscale versions of veal Stroganoff and chicken Kiev. Russia’s notorious bad boy Rasputin was one of the earliest fans of Yar Restaurant, which opened its doors in 1826; other famous diners have included Pushkin, Checkhov, and Savva Morozov.

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PHOTO: Jaimie Wilson(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/flickr
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Oldest Pub in the UK: Sheep Heid Inn

WHERE: Duddingston, Scotland

Thankfully, the sheep’s heid (head) soup that made this pub popular back when it opened in 1360 is no longer on the menu. Now, after six centuries, visitors are presented with a traditional pub menu (battered cod, burgers, Devon crab fishcakes, etc.) and a vegan menu (spiced coconut curry, Moroccan cauliflower tart, plant-based burgers, etc.). Mary Queen of Scots was a fan of the Sheep Heid Inn, and her son, King James VI of Scotland, was a regular at the skittles alley adjacent to the restaurant—which was recently restored through a partnership with Johnnie Walker—and Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and even Queen Elizabeth II have spent time at the Sheep Heid Inn over the years.

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PHOTO: captain barbosa(CC BY-ND 2.0)/Flickr
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America’s Oldest Banquet Hall: The Cranbury Inn

WHERE: Cranbury, New Jersey

An “unusual amount of wear on the steps to the attic of the innkeeper’s house” lead many to believe that this historic banquet hall was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Cranbury Inn’s history dates back way earlier though, opening its doors in the mid-1750s. Today, the property includes two 1700s stagecoach taverns and a 1930 dining room addition. The original dining hall still exists, where it’s played host to Albert Einstein, the Prince and Princess of the Netherlands, Brooke Shields, and Meg Ryan. Fair warning: it’s also considered one of New Jersey’s most haunted buildings!

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PHOTO: Zum Franziskaner
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World’s Oldest Brewpub: Zum Franziskaner

WHERE: Stockholm, Sweden

Founded by German monks in 1421, Zum Franziskaner continues to be a favorite spot for Swedish sausages and German-style beer. Although the restaurant has been rebuilt and moved many times over the years, it continues to serve the same beer it has had on tap since its opening. Their schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) and Swedish hash served in a hot skillet with a fried egg and cornichons are favorites among the locals.

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PHOTO: Ty Nigh(CC BY 2.0)/Flickr
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Canada’s Oldest Continually Operated Restaurant: L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel

WHERE: Montreal, Quebec

A fur-trading post was once the gathering place for the people of Montreal, but now it’s L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel’s Velvet Speakeasy nightclub where locals gather together beneath the floors of this historic restaurant. French soldier Étienne Truteau built L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel in 1688, where the business went on to become the first auberge in North America to receive a liquor license. Today, the restaurant remains an icon of Old Montreal, serving upscale regional cuisine with a focus on sustainability and seasonal ingredients.

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PHOTO: Griswold Inn
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Oldest Brunch Spot in America: Griswold Inn

WHERE: Essex, Connecticut, USA

Chefs at the Griswold Inn (aka “the Griz”) have been serving souffles and dolling out dollops of whipped cream for made-to-order Belgian waffles for brunch since 1812. Although the inn was serving meals to guests back when it opened in 1776, it wasn’t until the British commandeered the building during the War of 1812 that the inn’s brunch tradition began. Nostalgic British “Hunt Breakfasts” were served every Sunday during the war and the tradition lives on today, complete with omelets and Belgian waffles.

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Oldest Fast Food Chain: A&W

WHERE: Lodi, California

It was a hot day in Lodi when A&W founder Roy Allen sold his first handmade soda. World War I had just ended, and Allen’s make-shift root beer stand was in a prime position along the parade route to quench the thirst of the recently returned soldiers. A frosty mug filled with Allen’s creamy creation went for a nickel back then, and his same recipe is still used today throughout the chain’s more than 1,000 stores worldwide.

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PHOTO: Restaurante Botin
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Oldest Continually-Operated Restaurant in the World: Restaurante Botin

WHERE: Madrid, Spain

Despite the fact that this Guinness Book of World Records holding restaurant had to temporarily close its doors for the first time ever since opening in 1725 due to the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020, Restaurante Botin still holds the title of the “oldest continually-operating restaurant in the world.” The same flame has burned in the restaurant’s oven for 295 years consecutively—even during the Spanish Civil War when it became a dining room for military members—heating up house specialties like suckling pig and sopa de ajo for nearly a century before receiving a nod from Ernest Hemingway himself in his novel The Sun Also Rises.

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PHOTO: Mickey Bo(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/Flickr
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Oldest Restaurant in the World: St. Peter Stiftskeller

WHERE: Salzburg, Austria

Located within the walls of St. Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg, the 11 dining rooms of this historic restaurant include hollowed out spaces in the stone cliffs beneath the Fortress Hohensalzburg and more “modern” spaces that dates back to the late 1600s. St. Peter Stiftskeller is believed to be the oldest restaurant in the world, first mentioned in a document by Alcuin of Yok in 803 AD after he served Emperor Charlemagne. The restaurant closed only once during the Napoleonic Wars but has served guests ranging from Christopher Columbus to Clint Eastwood while it’s been open before and after the invasions.

1 Comments
K
keithknuuti6504 May 28, 2020

You could add Ma Yuxing (Ma Yu Ching) in Kaifeng, China. The owners have moved locations, but they claim to have been serving their bucket chicken and sauce since 1153. They've been at their current location for over 160 years, so it's older than the current Bianyifang duck restaurant in Beijing.